D. J. Mbenga
|Born||December 30, 1980|
|Nationality||Belgian / Congolese|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||255 lb (116 kg)|
|NBA draft||2002 / Undrafted|
|2007–2008||Golden State Warriors|
|2008–2010||Los Angeles Lakers|
|2010–2011||New Orleans Hornets|
|2013||Barako Bull Energy|
|Career highlights and awards|
Didier "D. J." Ilunga-Mbenga (pronounced Benga; born December 30, 1980) is a Belgian-Congolese professional basketball player. He has also played for the Belgian national basketball team as he is a dual citizen of both his native countries.
Mbenga was born and raised in Kinshasa, Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his father was a government employee. When a new regime took over power, it sought out everyone who worked for the previous leader. As unrest in the country escalated, Mbenga and his family were imprisoned. While his father was eventually unable to save himself, he did manage to negotiate on behalf of his wife and son, as Mbenga and his mother escaped the nation and were given asylum in Belgium. While living in a refugee center, he was discovered by Belgian basketball legend Willy Steveniers, who eventually served as Mbenga's personal basketball mentor.
In 2001, Mbenga joined Spirou Gilly of the Belgian Division II league where he made his professional debut in 2001–02. In 2002, he joined the Leuven Bears of the Belgian Basketball League for the 2002–03 season where in 21 games he averaged 8.1 points per game. Then in 2003, he joined Spirou Charleroi also of the Belgian Basketball League for the 2003–04 season where he played both league games and ULEB Cup games.
On July 14, 2004, Mbenga signed a two-year, $3.4 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks and joined them for the 2004 NBA Summer League. In an injury-riddled first season with the Mavericks in 2004–05, he managed just 15 games while averaging just one point per game.
In July 2005, Mbenga re-joined the Dallas Mavericks for the 2005 NBA Summer League, and went on to play in 43 regular season games for the franchise in 2005–06. During the 2006 Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns, Mbenga was suspended for six games for going into the stands, after he saw the wife of coach Avery Johnson being harassed by fans. He went on to manage seven playoff games in the Mavericks' playoff run that ended in Game 6 of the NBA Finals where they lost to the Miami Heat.
On June 30, 2006, the Mavericks extended a qualifying offer to Mbenga in order to make him a restricted free agent. After again playing for the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Summer League, Mbenga re-signed with the franchise to a three-year, non-guaranteed contract on July 13, 2006. However, he managed just 21 games in 2006–07 after suffering a torn right ACL on February 7, 2007. He returned to the court on October 23, 2007 in the Mavericks' preseason finale against the Chicago Bulls where he recorded 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 assist in 12 minutes of action. A week later, he was waived by the Mavericks.
On January 21, 2008, Mbenga signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. On February 1, 2008, he signed a second 10-day contract with the Lakers. On February 11, 2008, he signed with the Lakers for the rest of the 2007–08 season. On September 24, 2008, he re-signed with the Lakers.
On March 6, 2009, Mbenga recorded a then career high 10 points on 4–5 shooting, along with 4 rebounds and 5 blocks, in a 110-90 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers went on to win the 2009 NBA championship after they defeated the Orlando Magic 4 games to 1 in the 2009 NBA Finals.
With starting forward Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum injured, Mbenga made his first start for the Lakers on November 6, 2009 in a 114-98 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Two days later, Mbenga recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, in addition to 4 blocks, in a 104-88 win over the New Orleans Hornets. On April 9, 2010, he recorded a career high 11 points in a 97-88 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mbenga went on to win his second NBA championship after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 4 games to 3 in the 2010 NBA Finals.
In July 2012, Mbenga joined the Milwaukee Bucks for the 2012 NBA Summer League. On September 27, 2012, he signed with the Dallas Mavericks. However, he was later waived by the Mavericks on October 2, 2012.
In November 2012, Mbenga signed with Qingdao DoubleStar of the Chinese Basketball Association. On December 12, 2012, he played his final game for Qingdao before being replaced in the line-up by Chris Daniels.
Return to the NBA (2014)
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Denotes seasons in which Mbenga won an NBA championship|
In 2005, Mbenga started the Mbenga Foundation with the goal to help children in the Democratic Republic of Congo and refugees in Belgium.
- Pouncy, Chad (December 4, 2009). "NBA Teams Prepare For The D.J. Mbenga Free Agency Sweepstakes In 2010". BleacherReport.com. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- "Didier Ilunga-Mbenga Bio Page". NBA.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2010.
- Bhattacharya, Preetom. "Hoopsworld: Mbenga provides some perspective". LakersGround.net. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- "Poulain van Willy Steveniers tekent contract bij Dallas Mavericks". nieuwsblad.be (in Dutch). July 9, 2004. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- "LAL – D.J. Mbenga". ESPN.com. May 29, 2009. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Dallas' D.J. Mbenga Suspended Six Games". NBA.com. June 1, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Knee injury to sideline Mavs' Mbenga for season". ESPN.com. February 8, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Dallas Mavericks waive DJ Mbenga". InsideHoops.com. October 30, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Warriors Sign DJ Mbenga, Waive Stephane Lasme". NBA.com. November 17, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Warriors Waive Mbenga in Favor of Center Perovic from D-League". NBA.com. January 6, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "LAKERS SIGN DJ MBENGA". NBA.com. January 21, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "After two 10-day contracts, Lakers sign Mbenga for rest of year". ESPN.com. February 11, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "LAKERS RE-SIGN DJ MBENGA". NBA.com. September 24, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Lakers 110, Minnesota 90: Hugs for all the people!". LATimes.com. March 7, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Kobe scores 24,000th point as short-handed Lakers get by Grizzlies". ESPN.com. November 6, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Didier Ilunga-Mbenga 2009-10 Game Log". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "D.J. Mbenga bolsters Hornets' frontcourt". ESPN.com. October 13, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Mavericks add three to training camp roster". ESPN.com. September 27, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Dallas Mavericks waive Tu Holloway and DJ Mbenga". InsideHoops.com. October 2, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- 双星正式搞定姆本加 生锡顺：今年绝对值得期待. qdsxlq.com (in Chinese). November 13, 2012. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- 青岛新外援曾在韩国联赛20+10+. qdsxlq.com (in Chinese). December 11, 2012. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "DJ Mbenga inks with Barako Bull Energy in the Philippines". Sportando.com. April 3, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- Joble, Rey (April 3, 2013). "Barako Bull expects 'more inside presence' from ex-Laker DJ Mbenga". InterAksyon.com. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "Knicks Sign Didier Mbenga". NBA.com. October 8, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Knicks Waive Orlando Sanchez, Didier Mbenga". NBA.com. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
- "Jaeger-LeCoultre hosts Los Angeles Lakers at the Beverly Hills boutique". TheTimeTV.com. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
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